Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Since having a baby, I have really gotten into routines. I always liked having them, but I have never fallen into rhythms easily, so I didn't have many routines unless they were forced upon me. Having a baby sort of forces routines on you, and I have generally loved every predictable minute of my routinized life.

Now that leaving is upon us, I have started realizing how much other people have woven themselves into my routines. Today, while on my walk, Wiggle and I ran into a friend and her daughter at the exact place we had run into them yesterday. It was around the same time, but only within an hour, yet there we were waving to each other around the same corner. I love that about my neighborhood. I run into people on the street, at the grocery store, the post office, the park. Before we had Wiggle, it happened less frequently even though we were out more. Now, we are more conspicuous when we are out, and even more than that we and all the other Hyde Parkers with kids are following a routine, one dictated by naps, meals, and weather, and emphatically punctuated by more weather, health, and, of course, mood.

Our current routine runs something like this-  up between 7 and 8, breakfast, some reading and drawing, coffee while he watches Sesame Street at 10, play, down for nap around 12:30, up at 2:00, lunch, playing on the porch or in the yard, some laundry if we are in the yard, dinner around 5:30, a bath, bedtime stories, and down at 7:30.

Of course, it doesn't always go like that, but even if the times are off, there is still a rhythm to our day and our week. I will miss music class on Wednesdays, playdates on Thursdays, Saturday mornings at the Farmers' Market, the weekly run to Peet's for coffee.

I know we will find new routines in Fairfax; I will sign Wiggle up for another music class in the fall, but I will miss the other mothers and the kids from our class. Even if we did not form friendships with most of these people, they are in our lives. They are the people I wave to, exchange bits of info with at the grocery store, email about teething issues on the parenting listserv; they are my neighbors. I had been thinking about all of the things in Chicago I will miss, and of the specific people I will miss individually, but I will also very much miss my neighborhood, my community.

Hyde Park, I'm gonna miss you.

Monday, July 12, 2010


One of the things I will miss most about Chicago is the Mexican food. I'm sure DC has it's fair share of run-of-the-mill Mexican, and it probably even has a few standouts, but there is no better city in the country for Mexican food than Chicago. We have been lucky enough to have a couple of truly outstanding meals the last two weekends, both Mexican, and both completely different.

Two weekends ago, we went to Amelia's. This is a place we have driven by for years (it's at 45th and Halsted), and I always said I wanted to eat there, but I couldn't find out any info on the restaurant on the net, so I would forget about it until the next time we were driving by. C ended up going there this spring for a faculty dinner at IIT, and he raved about it. He suggested we go there the night after his dinner there. This should have clued me in to how good it was, but instead I took it as a sign that we needed to get out more, which was also probably true. The Saturday after C's defense, we managed to score some free babysitting from an awesome friend, and he suggested Amelia's again. This time I did not resist.

The minute we walked in, I loved it. I'm so upset I never took the leap and went there all those years ago, because it is a place I would go back to again and again. It has a nice atmosphere, but it is also very comfortable. I felt at home there. I immediately liked the waiters, the look of the menu, the chairs, etc. It's BYOB, and we had picked up some beer to bring. They brought us glasses, poured our beer, and put the other bottles in an ice bucket on the table, a nice touch.

Then, of course, there is the food. Everything was so good. We started with the -
Artichoke corn Fritters, Squash Blossoms, Epazote and Salsa Cruda...

and the -
Corn Truffle, Chihuahua Cheese, Epazote, Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad, Tomato Salsa…. 

The huitlacoche quesadilla was excellent, with the best mix of tangy vinegar and cheese and the requisite corn smut. You gotta love good corn smut.

For entrees, we ordered a special with scallops on top of a squash blossom risotto. The scallops were buttery and sweet and cooked perfectly. The risotto was full of squash blossomy goodness, and I love squash blossoms, so you really couldn't go wrong there.

We also ordered the - 
 Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Fava Beans, Anduille Sausage Baby Spinach and Spicy Ciruela Sauce..

The fava beans made this dish, and again it was perfectly seasoned. I can't remember a time when all of my dishes were so perfectly seasoned. All of the flavors were so well balanced that I think even if you did not like a dish, it would be hard to criticize it. 

It was such a good meal and so close to the house that I think we will try to go again before we leave in, gulp,  18 days.

The second Mexican meal was one for which we had been waiting for a long time. We had always meant to go to Topolobampo, Rick Bayless's more upscale restaurant, but we never seemed to get around to it. C's defense seemed like the best sort of excuse, and I managed to get reservations for this past weekend. Wiggle had been spiking a fever for the previous three days, so on Saturday before dinner, we took him to the ped to make sure he was ok, and see if there was any chance we could still go to dinner. The ped figured it was roseola, but we were all slightly concerned it was a UTI because he had been saying "penis, penis, penis" all morning and didn't want a diaper on. The poor guy had to go through TWO catheter attempts to get urine, both came up empty, and we were told to go home and hope a rash (the roseola sign) would show up the next morning, so we wouldn't have to try another catheter the next day.

 As soon as the catheter ordeal was over, he started perking up, and his fever seemed to have broken. Our babysitters for the evening were an extremely generous couple, who have sat for Wiggle before, and their gracious friend from out-of-town who had agreed to come along. (I know, I know - how lucky are we!) Since there were three extremely capable caregivers at hand, and since Wiggle seemed much happier and somewhat healthier, and since the next available reservations were in late August, well after our move, we decided to risk going to dinner. Boy, did we make the right decision!

We each did a tasting menu with the wine pairings. I got the White House State Dinner, and C chose the Veracruz Tasting. We shared everything. 

Phenomenal. The best meal I have ever had.

The mole negro I had with my main course was just amazing. It made me want to cry. I don't mean that it was so good, I wanted to cry, I mean it made me feel sad. It didn't make me think about sad things, instead -and don't laugh at me now- it felt sorrowful. I told C what was happening to me, and I think he thought I'd had a little too much wine. Then we switched plates, and he took a bite of the mole, and his face fell. He felt sad, too! It was, perhaps, the freakiest food experience I have ever had, but still so awesome. 

When we got home, sated and happy, the boy was sleeping soundly. The next morning the telltale roseola rash appeared, so no further doctor visit was required. The "penis" thing turned out to be, just a boy being a boy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doctor Who?

Yesterday, C successfully defended his dissertation. That means, today he is a doctor. Crazy!

Wiggle ended up attending the defense too, due to a babysitter snafu. He ate raisins, pointed aggressively at the ceiling fans, played with the buckle on his stroller, and was generally well-behaved, yet still a noticeable distraction. Afterwards, we all went to Jimmy's, the campus dive bar, for a beer. As C said yesterday, "now we can say that (Wiggle) has been laid out on the floor at Jimmy's!" Between munching on french fries dripping with ketchup and trying to run behind the bar, Wiggle alternately sat and laid down beneath our table happily playing with both of our phones, a true indulgence.
Two philosophers and a toddler

Yesterday evening, we sat on the back porch with the neighbors, sipping sparkling wine and watching the kiddos play with and sometimes eat chalk. I would say it was a very good day, indeed.

It has already prompted some thinking on my part though - I know I don't want my Ph.D., but I'm thinking a plan for the future/my future may be on the horizon... 

But first, I will focus on the impending Move. Today I acquired some boxes; this weekend I will start packing books and some other things that can go into the storage unit until the move. I will also try to encourage my husband to read more of his novel and play a few hours of Madden before he starts stressing about his classes in the fall. A wife's work is never done. (big dramatic sigh)